A hybrid activated sludge/biofilm process was investigated for wastewater treatment in a cold climate region. This process, which contains both suspended biomass and biofilm, usually referred as IFAS process, is created by introducing plastic elements as biofilm carrier media into a conventional activated sludge reactor. In the present study, a hybrid process, composed of an activated sludge and a moving bed biofilm reactor was used. The aim of this paper has been to investigate the performances of a hybrid process, and in particular to gain insight the nitrification process, when operated at relatively low MLSS SRT and low temperatures. The results of a pilot-scale study carried out at the Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim are presented. The experimental campaign was divided into two periods. The pilot plant was first operated with a constant HRT of 4.5 hours, while in the second period the influent flow was increased so that HRT was 3.5 hours. The average temperature was near 11.5°C in the overall experimental campaign. The average mixed liquor SRT was 5.7 days. Batch tests on both carriers and suspended biomass were performed in order to evaluate the nitrification rate of the two different biomasses. The results demonstrated that this kind of reactor can efficiently be used for the upgrading of conventional activated sludge plant for achieving year-round nitrification, also in presence of low temperatures, and without the need of additional volumes.
Keywords: activated sludge, biofilm, hybrid reactors, MBBR, nitrification, wastewater treatment